Adjusting to a colostomy is tough. For me, it was like a horrible dream. But with a positive mindset, I soon adjusted to my new life.
My colostomy reversal procedure was exactly one year to the day that I had surgery for a temporary colostomy. When I had the ostomy, my doctor had advised that I’d have to wait a year for my stoma reconnect because my colon needed ample time to regenerate and heal completely. It was a process he always applied and because I had explicit trust in him, I was okay with his advice. He doesn’t like to rush it.
And so, it was. Twelve months later, I had my temporary colostomy reversed; a colostomy take-down. With this reversal, my stoma was no longer necessary. It was pushed back in to reconnect it to my digestive tract and then was sealed up.
Why You May Get a Colostomy Reversal
Not all colostomies can be reversed. The procedure to reverse your stoma is usually less demanding than the original stoma surgery, depending on whether you have any other medical complications or not. But your bowel and anal muscles must be working well for a successful reversal.
Additionally, the body must be well healed to undergo another operation. Your surgeon will not carry out a stoma reversal unless you are in good health, and not until you have fully recovered from the effects of the colostomy operation.
When a colostomy is reversible, the reasons could be that:
- Trauma and its subsequent damage to the abdomen and the colon are not critical.
- The damage to the colon is minimal.
- The colon has healed completely and can now be reconnected back.
- A colon cancer patient has healed well enough after the initial surgery and has fully recovered from other treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The stoma reconnect procedure is simpler and relatively straightforward and can take any time from sixty minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the complexity of the initial procedure. In my own case, it took around an hour and forty-five minutes to reverse my colostomy.
The waiting period between the first procedure and its reversal is at the sole discretion of your doctor and can vary from a couple of months to a few years. As a surgeon, he or she is always in a better position to advise you as to when your stoma reversal will be carried out.
Stoma Reversal Procedure for a Colostomy Patient
After my colon had sufficiently healed to my doctor's satisfaction, it was time for my procedure, and it was done by the same surgeon that performed the first operation. You may find that in most cases, it is the doctor that performed the initial surgery that will carry out a colostomy reversal, and more likely than not, performed at the same hospital.
My temporary colostomy was reversed by the same surgeon and I was attended to by the same Stoma Nurse.
The procedure simply involves pushing the stoma back in and reconnecting the healed colon to it (your digestive tract), using sutures that will dissolve in the body within three months or thereabouts. The reconnection allows the digestive tract to function as it did before colostomy surgery was carried out.
Most ostomy patients are well enough to leave the hospital within 4 to 8 days. I spent 9 days, simply because it took a bit longer for my bowel to start to function again, but it may take less time for some patients and a bit more for others.
The stoma position on the abdomen is stitched shut with either dissolvable sutures, or small metal staples that are eventually removed after complete healing of the spot which took mine about two weeks. Removal of stitches or staples will be carried out in the outpatient department of your hospital.
After my stoma reversal, I was able to eliminate faeces through my rectum though it took a short while. Initially, I had some light constipation, but it soon became functional. Some patients’ experience the reverse and expel loose stool which may be frequent, but with time, the body and its digestive system settle back to normal.
My initial diet after my stoma reconnect consisted of light foods in small portions, but gradually, I reverted back to my regular diet but still ate in moderation.
How Long Does It Take to Fully Recover?
It may take several weeks for a patient to recover from colostomy reversal surgery and return to normal daily activities. Though it usually takes between four to six weeks for most, the recovery time will depend on the type of operation initially performed; ascending, transverse, or descending colostomy.
Recovery time also depends on whether you have other medical conditions, your will and determination, your general attitude, and whether or not you develop post-surgery complications.
Post-Surgery Monitoring for A Stoma Reversal Patient
I was checked and monitored constantly for any signs or symptoms of complications, and closely observed for signs of infection, which may indicate an internal leak of waste into the stomach.
Tests were carried out frequently to ensure my recovery is normal and acceptable, and there were also very frequent checks on vital signs.
Recent Studies on Temporary Colostomy Patients
Latest research studies by the University of Michigan Health System tells us that temporary colostomy patients are generally not as accepting and happy as patients with a permanent colostomy. Strange, but true.
They say that patients with a temporary colostomy will always hope and yearn for a life without a colostomy. It is said that many may put their life on hold and may postpone getting on with their normal lifestyle and habits until their colostomies are reversed.
On the other hand, ostomy patients with permanent colostomies soon adjust to their medical condition and quickly realise that there is no changing the fact that they’ll live with a stoma for the rest of their lives. So, they deal with it squarely and move on happily with their lives.
For the temporary colostomy patient, a stoma reversal is a joy. I was happy it was all over. No more colostomy appliances, and no more disposing of, or emptying faeces from colostomy bags.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: How limited is the diet 6 months post-op?
Answer: Generally, at 6 months, you can eat whatever you wish, but in moderation. It is important to chew your foods well (meat, nuts, etc...).
If you find that you are constipated, drink lots of water or take a very mild laxative.
© 2010 Alobeda
Comments and Views are Welcome
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 13, 2020:
Well explained. Nice.
Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on July 03, 2015:
Pauline, it is only your doctor/surgeon that will let you know if your colostomy is reversible or not.
After your surgery, he or she will tell you if your ostomy is a temporary one or permanent one. This is what happened in my case.
Talk to your doctor and see what he or she says.
Hope this helps you.
pauline on June 30, 2015:
I want to ask if is possible for me to revised after two operations. I had operation in 2004 normal in2006 n onther 2015 but still born by operation I straliza but now um regetting. Can I revise